Friday 22 June 2018

Row over their father's €400,000 estate leaves family of six 'torn apart'

Stock photo
Stock photo

Ray Managh

A judge tried to unite a family of six, warring over what's left of their father's estate, in a bid to save them spiralling legal costs.

"You are all of the same flesh and blood, brothers and sisters who may not like one another, perhaps victims of what has happened in the course of time," Mr Justice Raymond Groarke told the family.

"This is a very sad case, siblings engaged in washing the family linen in public, albeit in a private court," added the Circuit Court president.

He was speaking amid the dispute, involving five sisters and a brother, over an estate worth about €400,000.

It involved allegations of mental and physical abuse by their father, and allegations of sexual abuse of two of the girls by their brother.

Judge Groarke ruled against a claim by one of the sisters that the €22,000 she had been left by her father had failed to meet his moral obligation to have adequately provided for her.

During the hearing, for which the plaintiff sister had flown halfway around the world, she claimed she had been regularly beaten with a strap by her father.

Education

She alleged that he had failed to give her a proper education which limited her work prospects. Supported by one other sister, she claimed she had been often starved of food and forced to attend school in ragged clothes.

Other sisters told the court she was the best looking of the family and a favourite of her parents, claiming she had left school early to become a model but eloped with a boyfriend.

The judge refused to accept the idyllic picture they had described regarding their sister.

Judge Groarke said he accepted that conditions in the family home were bad - but not as bad as described in court.

But he accepted, with regard to alleged sexual molestation, adequate attention had not been given by the parents as to what had been actually taking place in the house.

In the middle of a two-day hearing, Judge Groarke had adjourned to allow talks in the hope that "common sense would be allowed to prevail".

The legal battle so far has incurred costs estimated at a minimum of €60,000.

But later he said the plaintiff had failed to make out a claim that her father had failed to make proper provision for her.

"Does a moral obligation last forever?" he asked.

Irish Independent

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